A Former Nurse Looks Back on the Problems Caused by Paper

    
The Access team is strong because of the variety of perspectives and experiences our employees provide. Lindsey Keith is part of the Access marketing team plus she previously worked as a registered nurse. In this post, we take a look back at a 2016 blog by Lindsey where she reflects on how her time in nursing would have differed had she used an eSignature solution. (Access team member, Lindsey Keith, pictured center left, with fellow nurses.)


Have you ever frantically searched for a patient’s MAR to write nursing notes before a shift change? Or have you ever forgotten to chart Hillary’s PRN meds? What about working your shift and noticing that Donald didn’t sign his a.m. med passes?

Questions like these take me back to my nursing days. I remember wondering if there’d ever be a time that we didn’t have a medication error on our floor. 

I started my career at age 22 working for Perceptive Software, better known as ImageNow, in sales and public relations. A life change a few years later led me to nursing school and to pursue a career in healthcare. 

I worked for a rheumatologist after nursing school and then at two nursing homes. It was clear early on that my favorite department was the Alzheimer’s floor. Every day was a new day there that presented new challenges. Back then, my kids were little and I’d occasionally bring them with me to work. The residents loved them!

Being able to care for those seniors was truly special to me. I loved nursing; I found it rewarding to care for someone else’s parent or grandparent because they were unable to.

After three years as a nurse, I found myself back in the software world and soon started working at Access. As a nurse, I gained a new perspective on the need for health care IT solutions.

At the rheumatologist’s office, there was paper, paper and more paper. In fact, the receptionist used a pencil to write patient appointments into a paper desk planner. If someone canceled, she simply erased it from the calendar. Can you imagine that happening today?

When I met with a patient in that office, I grabbed their manila folder off the shelf before taking their vitals. After an appointment, I set the folder in the rheumatologist’s office so he could hand-write notes and sign off. The doctor would then place the finished files in a different spot in his office so the nurses knew they could go back on the shelf in alphabetical order.

It’s safe to say, it was a waste of time and paper, not to mention ripe with opportunity for medical error. I definitely needed a drink after that shift!

I can only imagine how my life as a nurse would have been different if the rheumatologist’s office and the two nursing homes had used Access eForms software, eSignature and workflow automation solutions. I’m confident the three care venues would have been more efficient, had higher employee retention rates, provided better patient care and eliminated any risk of lost paper forms.

But more importantly, patient safety would have improved. And, I wouldn’t be left wondering about the risk of medication errors on our floor.

At the nursing homes, I transcribed physician notes, dispensed medications and monitored patient responses. Just one error recorded on paper could have had devastating consequences. But with an eForms solution, physicians could have prescribed medications electronically and eliminated the risk of handwriting errors.

An electronic MAR? I’m smiling from ear-to-ear just thinking about it!

The improvements that eForms bring to the care setting are almost endless. As a nurse, I wish I’d been able to set up situational workflows, create alerts on medication passes, along with second approvals on narcotics.

All those after-shift drinks you see nurses enjoying at the bar down the street are spurred by what happens on the floor. Sure, not all their stress stems from paper, but the issues presented by paper definitely add a sense of risk and a heightened state of stress to their work day.

If we’d had the ability to capture patient electronic signatures, I may not have wanted or needed that post-shift drink. Okay, who am I kidding? I love a good craft beer!

About The Author - Lindsey Keith

From logistics to analytics to curatorship, Lindsey keeps sales and marketing operations on course, on target and on point. She combines a systematic approach with a wealth of knowledge about paperless software solutions—having worked in the industry for decades.

Feel free to email me here.